BY BECKI DEGEEST
After re-evaluating MSUM’s campus-wide master plan, three buildings are due for renovation and will be added to the list to be ranked by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) scoring committees in January 2015.
Weld, Rolland Dille Center for the Arts and Nemzek are all due for renovations, some more extensive than others. With Weld not making the list to be proposed to legislature, there is a plan to reassess how to improve chances for funding next year.
When renovations are needed, a project is proposed by a university to an MnSCU scoring committee, a group that consists of administrators of an MnSCU system (like MSUM). Then, several committees spend two days viewing and scoring project proposals and rank them based on need, cost, accessibility, lifespan of buildings, length and duration of renovations and more. Typically the list consists of around 30 or more projects presented every two years.
If a project scores high, it will move into a request list where it is presented to the legislature where they will determine whether the project will receive funds and the amount of funding given. Unfortunately for Weld, the building did not score high and didn’t make the list to be presented this year.
“I think these are very challenging times for our legislators, and I think they’re very conservative,” MSUM physical plant manager Jeff Gobel said. “They also want to see projects where there is some private funding as well as state funding, and that helps significantly in scoring.”
Having partners is an important factor when it comes to the ranking of building renovations, Goebel said. Committees like to know there is a plan and funding coming in that is not going to be solely based on state funds. Bond sales are also very important for the funding of renovations.
Because Weld did not successfully make it onto the list for extra funding, the MSUM committee will try again in January. However, this time there will be two more buildings added to the list, causing extra challenges for all involved.
“It would be nice if Weld could be renovated first,” Goebel said. “Weld could be done in one project phase whereas Nemzek and the Center for the Arts would need two phases to be completed.”
When determining renovation designs, the use of the building is widely considered along with private use, contractual requirements, energy projects, energy saving problems, roof management, model buildings, future costs and collaborative contracts. There are also things like accessibility and friendliness that are equally important.
“For example, the Center for the Arts doesn’t meet our needs well in terms of accessibility,” he said. “It is a poor building as far as the musical instruments go. We need better humidification, better environmental control and protection for the pianos. It needs a very thorough update of all those systems. We really want to make it accessible. Also, if you ever tried to maneuver around in that building you’ll find that you get lost easily, so the goal is also to open it up and make it more friendly and easy to get around, which right now you cannot.”
Goebel said the same is true of Nemzek, “We want it to be a lot friendlier,” Goebel said. “The biggest factor in Nemzek is the fact that it was originally built for men’s sports only, and now we are trying to have gender equity.”
The next process is a 50 percent review, where administrators and faculty of specific buildings will get a chance to look at a predesign. In late September the MnSCU committees will give the final report, which will give an approximate price of how much the renovations are going to need for funding.
Overall, Goebel said that completing a renovation could take years, and as far as Weld, the Center for the Arts and Nemzek are concerned, it will be a while before they see any major changes, as the first proposal for the library’s renovations took place in 2006, and the project is still not completed in 2014.